On Friday, the Hawaii Senate voted 18-7 to approve a bill recognizing civil unions. The lopsided vote can override a potential veto and "send[s] a strong message of support to the state House and Gov. Linda Lingle," notes the Honolulu Advertiser.
The Republican Lingle has not indicated if she will sign the bill. But the stridently anti-gay Catholic Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who is also a candidate for governor, slammed the vote and hinted toward a voter referendum.
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said that the Senate vote was at odds with the people of the state. "Instead of redefining the institution of marriage, legislators should be focused on improving public education and balancing the state budget," Aiona said in a statement. "Like other movements across the country, voters will have the final say on Election Day."
HB 444 now returns to the House which passed a similar measure by a 33-17 vote in February 2009
Aiona headlined last weekend's anti-civil unions rally in Honolulu that attracted thousands. At the rally, Aiona, a former Bush appointee, said that he and his wife Vivian "may have struggled at times" during their marriage but: "We do know one thing. We know that marriage is about a man and a woman. That is true."